Saturday, October 27, 2012


Frank Zappa was wrong. The crux of the biscuit is not the apostrophe. It's the asterisk.

When it comes to human-powered equipment the answer to almost any question  is "it depends." In addition to cross-country skis I could say this about bicycles, kayaks, hiking and climbing boots, snowshoes and a host of other equipment that's simple to use when properly chosen and correctly applied.

Many a ski sale starts with a long explanation about all the different kinds of ski and skiing. You can streamline it to some extent, but customers ask questions. Before you know it you've spent 45 minutes you would have preferred to spend with the lunch they interrupted, giving someone who came in with no idea at all a general picture of what their opportunities are. It is never meant to confuse them or bore them to death or make the salesman look smart. It is only intended to put a new skier or a skier making a change of equipment onto the most enjoyable ski for them. It's intended to build the sport, one satisfied skier at a time.

In Jackson the touring center management was looking for something more along the lines of a prostitute turning as many tricks as possible with no backtalk. Show some respect for your betters! Get 'em in, get their money and get 'em out! Quit wasting people's time with long-winded explanations and big words! It was amazing how much advice we were expected to take from a bunch of people who had never been in specialty retail -- perhaps not in retail at all.

As much as I may sympathize with people's wish for the simple pleasures of the world to remain simple, even something as basic as food or sex becomes extremely complicated in a hurry.

If I could sell someone the perfect set of skis time after time with just six well-chosen words it would certainly free up the rest of my time for a long list of other things I enjoy. Indeed, the opprobrium leveled at me at Jackson Ski Touring has made me gun shy about approaching anyone with my previous good faith and optimism. If not for the fact that the vast majority of customers compliment us on our thorough and informative presentation I might quit bothering at all. Given the quality of equipment the industry is putting out these days and the unreliable winters I already have enough challenges to my enthusiasm.